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2018 Fabulist

2018 Fabulist
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Only 100 cases made

Every family has one – the raconteur who captivates his or her listeners with tales of family lore, the one who extends the dinner conversation long after dessert has been served. In the Komes family, that person is John Komes, our own fabulist, a man of legendary storytelling ability who has kept us enthralled for decades. Fabulist is a tribute to him.


The 2018 Fabulist is sourced from Jon Nathaniel’s estate-owned vineyards in the Rutherford appellation of Napa Valley. Situated in the heart of Napa Valley, these low-yielding valley floor vineyards enjoy a warm, sunny climate, cool evenings and well-drained, rocky/loam soils that are low in fertility. We tend these vineyards by hand with copious canopy management and fruit culling to ensure small yields of beautifully rich and concentrated fruit. The grapes for this wine were hand-picked in small lots as selected blocks achieved ripeness.


After arriving at the winery the grapes were cold soaked for three to five days to extract color, flavor and tannin, and then placed in small stainless steel tanks for fermentation. Once dry, the wine aged for 18 months in 100% French oak barrels, 40% new. It was bottled without fining.


2018 brought a long, steady and near-ideal growing season to Napa Valley with moderate weather in spring and summer and no significant heat spikes. Harvest was later than in recent years, with continued mild weather through the fall that allowed grapes to gradually ripen and develop both sweetness and acidity. Overall it was an uneventful and fine growing season yielding wines of intensity, concentration and balance.

Tasting Notes

The Jon Nathaniel 2018 Fabulist opens up with beautiful fruit flavors of red and black cherry, blueberry and Santa Rosa plum, with secondary notes of semisweet chocolate, vanilla, sweetbrier and dried florals. The wine has a soft entry and shows nice weight on the mid-palate with a balanced acidity that adds structure and length. This is a lovely, mouth filling Napa Valley Cabernet with smooth, easy-going tannins; it’s drinking well now but will cellar nicely for 15 or more years.

Varietals: 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec, 3% Cabernet Franc
Appellation: Napa Valley
Aging: 18 months in 100% French oak barrels (40% new)


Score: around 9
"Another winery born out of significant success in the industry, Jon Nathaniel Wines is the next act of John Komes, the founder of Flora Springs Winery. John started Flora Springs in 1978, back when there were only 66 wineries in California…Jon Nathaniel Wines, which was California’s 6,967th bonded winery when he started it as a personal label along with his son Nathaniel “Nat” Komes. The younger Komes serves as winemaker, with a heavy dose of collaboration from his father, who is referred to as “the fabulist” and serves as the inspiration for the winery’s red wine. Jon Nathaniel isn’t a new winery per se, but it was a new name to me.

Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of rich black cherry and cassis. In the mouth, black cherry, cassis and blueberries have a nice polished, round quality in the mouth. Good acidity and faint, billowy tannins round out the blend. Rich but without being heavy.” Read more.
—Alder Yarrow, April 2021

93 points
Jeb Dunnuck
"The 2018 Red Blend Fabulist checks in as a mix of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot, and the balance an even split of Malbec and Cabernet Franc. Lots of red and black currants, cedar pencil, dried flowers, and spice-like aromatics give way to a medium to full-bodied Cabernet with a seamless, elegant texture, nicely integrated tannins, no hard edges, and a great finish. It’s already drinking nicely today, and I see no need to delay gratification, but I have no doubt this will evolve nicely for at least 10-12 years, possibly even longer." Read more. January 2021

Jon Nathaniel and the Fabulist: A father and son's new winery in St. Helena
Napa Valley Register
"He and Nat set about transforming the barn of their adjacent property into a smaller-scale winery where they could experiment with wine-making techniques. This is Jon Nathaniel Winery..." Read more.
—Sasha Paulsen, October 2020

95 points
Blue Lifestyle
"Very dark color, lush blackberry nose, smooth and gentle with toast and vanilla, luscious and rich with intensely generous style; tangy acid structure and good length, a cellar candidate."
—Anthony Dias Blue, September 2020

"Another great wine from Jon Nathaniel, the 2018 Fabulist gives a traditional Bordeaux blend a Napa Valley touch, specially harvested from the prized Komes Family vineyard. Very dark in color, and with a lush blackberry nose, this wine is smooth and gentle with toast and vanilla. It is a great wine to drink, and perhaps even better to cellar, with its luscious, intensely gorgeous style. It would make a great gift for any avid wine drinker..." Read more and listen to the podcast.
—Anthony Dias Blue, WCBS 880 AM-NY and KNX 1070 AM-LA, November, 2020

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